Police officer Locke (Boyd Holbrook) and his partner Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) respond to an unusual call where a bus driver crashed after her brain liquified. When Locke’s brother-in-law – Detective Holt (Michael C. Hall) – gets word of a 2nd and then 3rd death with the same cause of death: mysterious brain liquification. Locke finds a clue that leads them to believe it’s a serial killer. Going against direct orders to stay out of it, Locke and Maddox track down the Killer (Cleopatra Coleman) and chase her down into the subway where a fight ensues.
The Killer seems to know Locke and reveals information nobody else would know about his wife going into labor at this very moment. Locke accidentally pushes The Killer into an oncoming subway train and its case closed. Or is it?
9 years later… Locke is doing his best to be a single parent and has managed to rise through the ranks to become a detective. A case pops up and Locke is forced to bring his daughter with him. Things get even weirder when signs point to a copycat killer of his brain liquefying case from 9 years ago. A scientist (Rudi Dharmalingam) comes to them with the crazy theory that the killer is using the moon cycle to commit their crimes and it’s here when things get even weirder when the evidence suggests it’s the same Killer that Locke pushed in front of the subway train.
He and Maddox work the case together and manage to get The Killer once again, only once she’s been cornered she overpowers them and kidnaps Locke. Think things were weird before? She tells him to stop chasing her and reveals that she is, in fact, a time traveler from the future, systematically killing people who will undo her time. And how is she still alive after he killed her 9 years earlier? It hasn’t happened for her yet as she travels every 9 years and her death is her next jump! She mysteriously vanishes without a trace.
Flash-forward a further 9 years later… Locke is no longer a cop. His obsession with figuring out who The Killer is and how to stop her has led to him being estranged from his daughter and generally out of touch with reality, but he vows to hunt her until he stops her, no matter how long it takes…
In the Shadow of the Moon is a Netflix original movie, meaning you can watch it right now in the comfort of your own house. Which is good, because it likely would have bombed at the box-office. If we’ve learned anything from recent box-office receipts its that high concept, thoughtful science-fiction and profitable returns don’t mix that well. See Blade Runner 2049 for example.
The story is an interesting one, and a somewhat unique take on time travel. Combine that with a film noir-ish detective story and you’ve got a winner, right? In theory, sure, but it sadly doesn’t quite work out that way here.
Everything about this movie feels just average (except for Michael C. Hall, who stands out in his supporting role). The lead actors? Average. The story? Average. The cinematography? The special effects? Direction? Average, average, average. This is actually par for the course when it comes to Netflix original movies, sadly.
The script written by Gregory Weidman and Geoffery Tock (TV writers who worked on Zoo, the tv adaptation of Limitless, and Defiance) has a cool concept with a killer first act – literally – but sadly flounders as Locke’s obsession continues. It drags and culminates in a twist ending that somehow felt both forced and obvious. Combine that with lackluster performances and weak direction from Jim Mickle (who’s only done some very low-budget thrillers before this) and what do you get? You guessed it – average.
In the Shadow of the Moon isn’t a “bad” movie, per say. It’s perfectly acceptable. You won’t be wasting your time if you check it out on a rainy weekend when you can’t decide what else in your queue to watch. But it’s so overwhelmingly average in nearly every respect that it doesn’t leave an impression in any meaningful way. It’s not going to thrill you or make you think, which for a science-fiction thriller isn’t encouraging. Again, it’s already streaming on Netflix, so you’ve got nothing to lose but your time.